Over at Conglomerate, David Zaring (formerly a W&L law professor, now at Wharton) expands upon Greg Mankiw's observations on the sociology of economics, including musing on why economists are (or come off as) so great. Here is an excerpt:
[T]here’s no question that economists are well trained social scientists, with plenty of math and a confident professional ethos. Economists are also good in workshops – and I occasionally think that the old law professor credo of “have a theory about anything and speak in full paragraphs rich with prosody” is less popular in the interdisciplinary seminar rooms of our universities now that economists are coming too, and biting into the confounders and omitted variables. ...
Economists may crush all comers in seminars, Mankiw thinks, because "economics may attract people with a particular set of personality attributes, and perhaps these attributes are not the same set of attributes you might choose for your next dinner party.”
Mankiw's original post also contains this nugget:
[T]he set of advocates who are economists is quite small (I don't know if this reflects treatment or selection). In general, economists are more likely to make up their minds about whether a particular policy works based on theory or data. They may have priors, but not the the sort of "do-gooder"priors that advocates have. One of the reasons that economists are so aggressive with the non-economists is that we want to expose all the priors immediately.
I love this statement, at least as an aspiration. Of course, as noted in one recent critique of economists (see "Economics is a 'Triumph of Theory Over Fact'"), it is also possible to be so in love with your theory that you dismiss any need to test its most basic assumptions.